Here in Melrose we place great emphasis on honoring diversity while encouraging unity. With that spirit in mind, The Melrose Human Rights Commission was established in 1992. The establishment came in response to racist graffiti scrawled on the home of a Melrose family in 1989. After a short-lived Human Rights Coalition, the Human Rights Commission was chartered by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The Commission’s purpose is to prevent disputes, respond to incidents, and resolve disputes involving racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice. Furthermore, the Commission aims to promote diversity and respect among the citizens of Melrose. The Commission truly lives up to its motto: “Melrose: One Community Open to All.”
Along with its aforementioned functions, the Human Rights Commission sponsors a variety of programs and activities aimed at encouraging unity among Melrosians. Melrose is a No Place for Hate Community, meaning that, in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, the Commission works to prevent incidents of racial, ethnic or religious hate. Recently, the Commission received a grant from the ADL to start an education program in Melrose promoting human rights. This year, Melrose’s third graders will be learning about three Melrosians who stood up to hatred and prejudice in their time: Samuel Sewall, an abolitionist lawyer in the mid-1800’s; Mary Livermore, a suffragist; and Alice White, the director of a school for African American girls whose most famous student was Rosa Parks. The Commission also sponsors a variety of annual events including a Martin Luther King Jr. Day potluck dinner and a potluck dinner for recent immigrants to the United States.
Melrose also boasts an extremely diverse faith community. With thirteen Christian churches and a temple, Melrose offers something for people of many faiths.